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May 12, 2008
DC Requires Paid Sick Leave

The District of Columbia has approved legislation that entitles an employee to paid sick leave and paid "safe" leave.

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Under the district's Sick and Safe Leave Act, the amount of paid sick leave given to the employee depends on the size of the employer:

  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 37 hours worked, not to exceed 7 days per calendar year.
  • Employers with at least 25, but not more than 99, employees must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 43 hours worked, not to exceed 5 days per calendar year.
  • Employers with 24 or fewer employees must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 87 hours worked, not to exceed 3 days per calendar year.

Paid leave accrued under the Sick and Safe Leave Act may be used by an employee for any of the following reasons:

  • Physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition of the employee;
  • Obtaining professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventive medical care, for the employee, provided that the employee makes a reasonable effort to schedule such leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer;
  • Caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, domestic partner, or any other family member who has a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or needs for diagnosis or care; or
  • If the employee or the employee's family member is a victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse; provided, that the absence is directly related to social or legal services pertaining to the stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse.

To be eligible to use the leave, employees must have 12 months of service with the employer and have 1,000 hours of service during the 12-month period that ends when the request for the leave is made.

An employee's unused paid leave accrued during a 12-month period will carry over annually. However, the law doesn't require employers to reimburse employees for any unused paid leave accrued when they leave the company.

There are employees who aren't covered by the Sick and Safe Leave Act, including independent contractors, students, healthcare workers who choose to participate in a premium pay program, and restaurant wait staff or bartenders who work for a combination of wages and tips. If an employee does not suffer a loss of income when absent from work for sick and safe leave, the employer is not required to provide paid leave for that employee.

The district joins San Francisco in requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. In November 2006, voters in San Francisco approved Proposition F, making the city the first to require employers to offer paid sick leave. The ordinance requires employers to give 1 hour of paid sick leave to an employee for every 30 hours worked.

In the district, the mayor signed the bill March 19. The 30-day period for Congress to review the act has passed. Therefore, the law becomes effective upon publication in the District of Columbia Register.

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